In 1746, Carl Linnaeus travelled through the Västergötland region, and one windy day he arrived in Falköping. He studied the flora both on Mösseberg and on Ålleberg. As he walked up the hill to the Mösseberg Table, he was amazed at the varied landscape. He made various discoveries – in his travel report, which is still worth reading today, he describes for example the rare plant thistle broomrape. Even though Linnaeus liked the Mösseberg mountain it was to be another century before the most important component of a future spa resort came into being – the railway was built.
Count Gösta Posse, one of the men behind the initiative to build a railway to the Falbygden region, investigated the opportunities for establishing a spa resort in the local area, and Mösseberg was chosen, as the water from St Erik's Spring turned out to be “exceedingly abundant”. The water could easily be pumped up and be used by a spa establishment. Another good reason for choosing this site was that the side of the mountain, “Mössebergssluttningen”, was considered an area of natural beauty, with a vegetation which included deciduous forests and carpets of spring and summer flowers. After a fact finding trip to French and German bathing establishments, the drawings and suggestions for the development of Mössebergssluttningen were submitted. On the 30 August 1864, the project was approved by His Royal Highness.
In 1867, Doctor Otto Torstensson took up his post as the first Bath Physician at Mösseberg, in ”the grandest and most beautiful bathing establishment ever seen in this country”.
In the publication “Ny Illustrerad Tidning” the following story appeared later the same year:
“A few minutes journey from Falköping's railway station, on the southern side of the remarkable mountain of Mösseberg, where the beech forest is a reminder of the vast forests of times gone by, a spring wells up, around which the new bathing establishment has been built in a tasteful style. The interior is in accordance with the latest and best ideas.”
The most beautiful bathing house in Sweden only survived for four years. At the end of the bathing season, on the night of the 5th September 1871, this large wooden building burned down. The bathing season was actually over, there were no guests in the building, but three of the bathing attendants died in the fire. The building was completely destroyed.
After only one year, a new bathing house was built on the foundations of the one that burnt down. The guests, who at the end of the 19th century had consisted mainly of people with various lung diseases, were replaced by those who again regarded spa resorts as places for people of means – the top level of society. In the new Bathing Chapel in the park, church bells called visitors to the service, something the author Harald Schiller describes in one of his books:
“Along the winding paths of the park, where the small villas, usually in the colour white, shone through the greenery, bathers hurried in their hundreds to the chapel, which at least as much as the baths themselves provided the bond that held them together, year after year, the bond between them and perhaps the best health spa in the region, Mösseberg.”
At the turn of the century, the spa resort expanded again. On the 14 November 1907, Prince Gustaf Adolf opened the Winter Sanatorium, which apart from guest rooms also included an assembly floor with a row of magnificent halls, a smoking room, a billiard hall, a dining room and a fully equipped bathing area. There was a kitchen and a large financial department in the basement. All the creature comforts of the time were available, like electric lights, central heating and water closets.
Mösseberg's halls, which were destined to welcome the top layers of Swedish society for several decades, obviously had to be furnished according to the latest fashion – Jugend style. These Jugend-style halls have been preserved until today. The Spa's distinguished guests visited often, and for a number of decades people like the Duke and Duchess of Västergötland – Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg, the poet Verner von Heidenstam, the Painter Prince Eugen, Märta, Queen of Norway, Albert Engström, Folke Bernadotte, Gustaf Dalén, Thor Modéen, and many others, were frequently seen here.
The laboratory assistant Karin Olsson describes her meetings with Princess Astrid, later a beloved queen of Belgium:
“Princess Astrid was very lively and pleasant. She liked to sit on a sofa, legs dangling, and talk to anyone passing by. I remember that she once said that she hoped to be married, but not to just anybody – it would have to be the Prince of Wales!
Even though many of the former, high society visitors to Spa Resort Mösseberg have now passed away – the traditions live on. With the health-bringing water as an ongoing focus, Spa Resort Mösseberg has returned to its roots, its origins.
“Society at Mösseberg is characterised by a calm and peaceful spa life, where no harmful amusements disturb the guests, but where there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy oneself.”